John Samuel Waters Jr. (born April 22, 1946) is an American filmmaker, director, writer, actor and artist. Born and raised in Baltimore, Waters rose to prominence in the early 1970s for his transgressive cult films (many starring drag performer and childhood friend Divine), including Multiple Maniacs (1970), Pink Flamingos (1972) and Female Trouble (1974), Desperate Living (1977), and Polyester (1981), with Tab Hunter. He then made the period comedy Hairspray (1988), with Ricki Lake, Divine, Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, Jerry Stiller, Leslie Ann Powers, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Michael St. Gerard, and Ruth Brown; which became an international success and turned into a hit Broadway musical which has remained in almost continuous production. Waters has written and directed other successful films including Polyester (1981), Cry-Baby (1990), with Johnny Depp; Serial Mom (1994), with Kathleen Turner, Sam Waterston, Lake, and Matthew Lillard; Pecker (1998), with Edward Furlong and Christina Ricci; and Cecil B. Demented (2000), with Melanie Griffith, Stephen Dorff, Alicia Witt, Adrian Grenier, Michael Shannon, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
In addition to filmmaking and acting, Waters also works as a visual artist and across different mediums such as installations, photography, and sculpture. He has published multiple collections of his journalistic exploits, screenplays, ruminations and artwork. Waters’ artwork exhibits regularly in galleries and museums around the world. In 2015, the British Film Institute celebrated Waters’ films with a retrospective in honor of his 50 year filmmaking career. Later that year, he was nominated for a Grammy Award for the spoken word version of his book Carsick. As an actor, Waters has appeared in films such as Woody Allen‘s Sweet and Lowdown (1999), with Anthony LaPaglia, Brian Markinson, Gretchen Mol, Samantha Morton, Sean Penn, and Uma Thurman; Seed of Chucky (2004), Excision (2012), with AnnaLynne McCord, Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, Jeremy Sumpter, Malcolm McDowell, Matthew Gray Gubler, Marlee Matlin, and Ray Wise; and Suburban Gothic (2014), Gubler, Kat Dennings, Wise, and Jeffrey Combs. More recently, he performs in his touring one-man show, This Filthy World.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- Hag in a Black Leather Jacket (1964) – short
- Roman Candles (1966) – short
- Eat Your Makeup (1968) – short
- Dorothy, the Kansas City Pot Head (1968) – short
- Mondo Trasho (1969)
- Multiple Maniacs (1970)
- The Diane Linkletter Story (1970) – short
- Pink Flamingos (1972)
- Female Trouble (1974)
- Desperate Living (1977)
- Polyester (1981)
- Hairspray (1988)
- Cry-Baby (1990)
- Serial Mom (1994)
- Pecker (1998)
- Cecil B. DeMented (2000)
- A Dirty Shame (2004)
- Kiddie Flamingos (2015) -art instillation